Monday, December 2, 2013

The coming Red tide: China's ambitious push into the South China Sea and its impact on Singapore

Although Singapore is far enough from China's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) that our foreign ministry and defence ministry staffers can enjoy their normal weekend, the question that begs asking is whether Chinese aggression assertiveness nationalistic endeavours will stop at just imposing an air curtain off the Chinese seaboard.

If this is a sign of things to come, one can expect even more from the People's Republic of China (PRC) when (and not "if") it builds the military muscle to project and sustain its naval presence in the South China Sea (SCS).

At the current state of play, China's ADIZ can be monitored using its mainland air defence assets and naval units maintaining a radar picket offshore.

Naval aviation is confined to shipborne helicopters or mainland-based warplanes whose operational radii are tethered to their air-to-air refuelling capability or internal fuel and drop tanks.

Their sole aircraft carrier, Liaoning, is more a prop, a showpiece that makes an impressive backdrop for photo shoots involving carrier-borne fighters or PLAN heavy units. That single training carrier, devoid of an established concept of operations grounded on sound naval doctrine, operating with no organic AEW&C aircraft, sailing without the security of an outer perimeter of light forces, submarines and an inner ring of heavy naval units, no UNREP support ships worth talking about, is not a serious contender should she be pitted against present day naval forces in the region.

PRC naval aviation in 2030
But telescope China's military capabilities 15 years forward, sustained at the current growth trajectory, and one is likely to count fully operational two aircraft carriers that can project China's military ambitions closer to our neighbourhood.

By 2030, the ruffled feathers over the ADIZ would have long accepted the zone as status quo.

By 2030, regional analysts would have been desensitised to years of watching China's air and naval forces operate in the South China Sea.

That may pave the way for China to assert a stronger presence in the neighbourhood, using its SCS islets as anchor points and the aircraft carriers as patches of sovereign Chinese territory from which it can generate and sustain naval air cover.

Having China declare and secure territorial waters around South China Sea islets would change the game for defence planners so used to watching what the neighbours are up to. Emboldened by the ADIZ experience acquired in 2013, it would be interesting to theorise if they would pull a similar gig in the SCS once they have the military muscle to back words with deed.

Strategic realities
All the present-day talk about military options against China and analysis of how Red China is militarily weak compared to regional forces ignores two strategic realities.

First, military action against the PRC must reckon how industry would react when China is, and will continue to be, essentially the world's factory. Hitting China is unlike bombing the Ruhr during WW2. Industry magnates would have done their sums and quiet lobbying may hamstring military options, particularly when Western economic interests are at stake should things turn nasty.

Second, order of battle comparisons and us-versus-them scenarios generated by defence analysts and armchair generals from *insert your country of choice* seem to ignore the reality such tussles might see Chinese tactical nukes thrown into the equation. What then? Yes, it is mad. But many wars have stemmed from miscalculations of minor consequence snowballing into wider strategic effect (think about how the complex interplay of strategic alliances led to WW1 after Archduke Ferdinand was shot).

Dearth of analysis
Cold War calculations benefitted richly from decades of analysis which bred two/three generations of experten who devoted their lives to analysing how war across the Iron Curtain could flare. All sorts of scenarios from limited exchange on short warning, long war scenarios, proxy wars, launch on warning/launch on impact, command relationships with strategic nuclear forces, second strike capabilities and so on were studied and discussed extensively. Effects on global weather patterns were theorised (nuclear winter), movies were made and best seller novels on Cold War battles became vacation staples.

All this brain power amassed over the years made a positive and decisive contribution to deterrence. Because both sides understood the chilling costs of war. And no one was left to any doubt about the cost of miscalculation.

Compared to the Cold War, the standoff between China and its neighbours suffers from a dearth of literature which helps us get a better grasp of the situation.*

Concerns expressed in the past week about the ADIZ becoming a flashpoint probably stem from the realisation of the dreadful consequences that have resulted when one mixes nation willpower with misfired firepower.

Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugan said on 29 November'13 at the Global Outlook Forum in the lion city:"An incident can easily happen and we, the rest of the world, are to some extent hostage to what some ship captains might do. And how he might get us all involved in a conflagration that no one wants."

The concerns are not theoretical musings or scare mongering, but anchored on the substantial body count from the recent past in and around our immediate neighbourhood.

The April 2001 Hainan Incident, which resulted when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a United States (US) Navy EP-3 electronic surveillance plane off Hainan - where China's strategic submarines are based - is one example.

The September 1983 downing of Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 Flight KAL 007 off Russia's Sakhalin island, after a Russian air defence fighter guided by confused GCI controllers in the dark went weapons free is another.

Farther afield, we have the July 1988 case of the US Navy Aegis cruiser, USS Vincennes, shooting down Iran Air Airbus A300 Flight 655 after mistaking the airliner for an incoming flight of Iranian F-14 Tomcat warplanes. The Vincennes, in its time one of the latest US Navy warships, had info fusion capabilities that were then state-of-the-art. But this did not prevent the slaughter of innocents.

Whether it's a military-to-military encounter, warplane versus airliner or warship versus airliner, the tragedies that unfolded are real and may be sadly replayed should push come to shove in regional air and sea lanes. What's sobering to note is the individuals involved in shooting down the Korean and Iranian airliners were never brought to justice - which is a point ADIZ missileers and PRC foreign ministry staffers may have pondered.

A more robust presence by China in the SCS in not a cause for alarm. But it is unquestionable that  the region's strategic situation will be impacted, depending on the size, strength and longevity of Chinese military power sitting astride air and sea lanes that link Southeast Asia with key markets in North Asia.

What remains to be seen is if insurance underwriters can be similarly assured if and when China's naval ensign flies high in the SCS. Wasn't it not so long ago when Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore worked hard - collectively and energetically - to convince Lloyd's of London to remove the "War Risk" label for the Malacca Strait due to piracy/sea robber activity? We did so as this category would push up hull premiums and lead to higher shipping costs which, somewhere sometime downstream, would push up price tags for things we buy.

It is still some years away. Defence planners looking ahead must be aware that the current state-of-the-art - stealth warships or submarines - may be due for upgrading or replacement by 2030. What matters is the awareness that one should look beyond the immediate neighbourhood to factor in other players who can be expected to trail their coats off one's doorstep, in years to come.

Be that as it may, what is intriguing is the Chinese mindset that seeks to sweep aside and explain away regional concerns about its unilaterally declared ADIZ - air traffic has not been disrupted (true), it is within China's sovereign rights to do so (true) and that other nations have done so too (true).

It is not so much the rhetoric but more the intellectual intransigence in being able or willing to see the other side's point of view and bulldozing forth with one's perspective that points to the kind of future we can expect to see when the Red tide flows south.**

We can look further north than we're already used to, or we can sit tight and be totally blasé about regional geo-politics, only to wake up in 2030 to realise that the Singapore coastline pre-WW2 was better defended against warships than the city in the garden we're building together.




* This paragraph from The Straits Times report on the Global Outlook Forum is a case in point. An ST  journalist theorised why the US flew B-52 bombers in the ADIZ:"He pointed out that the US chose B-52s - rather than, say, the F-35 stealth fighters - for the mission. B-52s are the biggest planes in the US fleet, he said, with the largest radar  profiles, so the message from the US was that 'we want you to know', he said." (ST 30 Nov'13, page A8 'Top of the News')

With respect, the analysis is farcical. Had the US sent F-35 fighters with stealth features, the message would have been heard loud and clear not just in Beijing but around the world as the F-35s are not even in operational service. The journalist would have done nicely leaving it generically at "stealth fighters" without elaborating on type ("If unsure, leave it out" - Journalism 101). Or he could have mentioned F-22s, which have flown show-of-force missions in this region - and made paying participants at the forum feel they got their money's worth.


** Speaking of not being able to see the other side's point of view, the risks to flight safety when military flights take-off at their own whim and fancy without due regard to Air Traffic Control instructions was made apparent during the TNI's recent Angkasa Yudha war games. Indonesia's largest deployment of warplanes to Hang Nadim Airport in Batam came under the guidance from Changi Airport's ATC, as agreed by Indonesia as the airport's radar coverage is rudimentary. This blog is aware that some TNI flights took to the skies, destination Natunas, while ignoring instructions from Changi whose job was to ensure safe flight separation between commercial traffic and the TNI warplanes.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any idea which model is the Type 218SG submarine the RSN is getting based on?

Anonymous said...

One typo: magnates, not magnets.

Shock and awe can come the Chinese coast. Their Second Artillery can rain on you when the time comes. Vessels afloat are definitely more costly - with loss of lives - when these raining 'droplets' fall.

David Boey said...

Hi Anon 9:25 PM,
No idea. Looks like this is "announcement month". Stay tuned for more.

Hi Anon 10:21 PM,
Thanks eagle eye :)

Best regards,


David

Ss said...

I was really expecting an announcement regarding Kockum and a potential investment in the A26 class, but that's been delayed.

There's absolutely nothing in the public domain about the HDW Type 218, but that yard has been very successful with export subs in recent decades - including six to our Mediterranean friends. I'm starting to wonder if 650mm torpedo tubes are a part of the design specifications.

Ss said...

Oh, and regarding the PLAN CV, Feng made some interesting points:

http://china-pla.blogspot.sg/2013/11/cv-16-liaonings-sea-trial-in-south.html

stngiam said...

"Red China" ? Good grief, that kind of language sounds like it comes from white-haired right-wing Americans.

Anonymous said...

I thought the use of B-52s was a brilliant strategic move. It forced the Chinese to measure their response. Sending in F-22s would have been the perfect excuse for them to go all out.

Anonymous said...

I think China's military built up is completely understandable (though not necessarily acceptable).
What would you feel when you have strangers controlling your backyard?
US may think itself as the world police and it has the right to stick its nose on everything. but I doubt other countries think the same thing, especially when it's your own backyard.

And I don't know enough about the historical background of Diaoyou islands, but looking at the geographical location, I doubt that it ever belongs to Japan. It seems to me that US 'returned' the islands to Japan after WW2, because that way it would have bigger access to South China Sea since US has complete access to Japan territory. So I personally think China's ADIZ is justified there (not sure about other disputed islands with other countries though). I may be wrong here, just an opinion.

I would give benefit of the doubt to China, which has been relatively peaceful to the neighboring country throughout the history (although sadly not as peaceful internally), as opposed to warmongering US, and certainly not the war criminal worshipper Japan.
China didn't invade Iraq and Afghanistan and ran away after leaving a big mess.
And China certainly didn't commit Asian holocaust and cowardly denies it never happened to avoid compensation, and it didn't dump tons of radioactive waste everyday (and again denies it never happens).

Anonymous said...

I think B-52 was the appropriate signal (loud & clear) to send. F-22 is their trump card - the only 5th gen. stealth fighter in operation currently. If US strikes China (I hope it doesn't happen in my lifetime) F-22 will certainly be used, so better not let China figure out its weak spots by flying into chinese radar coverage.
I believe our Formidable class frigates were purchased with growth of chinese sea/air power in mind. South China Sea is getting crowded with China & SEA acquiring ships.
How much of China's show of force being used to appease their domestic audience? If you surf the chinese domestic forums, you can see many ultranationalistic, jingoistic comments, raring to fight the US-Japanese alliance (it's a lose-lose proposition for all sides if large-scale war happens). By becoming hardline, China is driving some Asian countries into the arms of the US.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/world/asia/in-the-east-china-sea-a-far-bigger-test-of-power-looms.html?_r=0

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, i am conscious of opening web pages/blogs like Senang Diri, The diplomat, strategy.au, etc. ... because out of respect to my PRC colleagues in the office... on a person to person level, we have the decency not to make things awkward around the workplace, maybe also not my personality to offend people...

i would quickly open the blogs and read and constantly be aware who is behind me... least i "offend" them. i think generally we are doing what we can to appease the Chinese ( myself a Sinkie of Chinese descent). Today can read opening cos he on leave hehe :-)

Anonymous said...

Anon @ December 4, 2013 at 5:05 AM

A lot of my Chinese teachers said the same thing- that China has never invaded a foreign country. Sadly this is not true.

When the PRC was established in 1949, the PLA invaded Xinjiang and a "revolution" was declared to absorb it into China. They did the same in 1951 in Tibet.

China supported the Khmer Rouge, and China invaded Vietnam in 1979.

Japan committed many atrocities in China in World War Two. We can see the cause of Japan's contempt for in China's contempt for Japan. China treated Japan worse than Malaysia and Indonesia ever treated us on the worst day. The Paiwan incident in 1871 and Nagasaki incident in 1886 showed how China treated Japan at a time when Japan was a weak and insular country. Things came around and later that century, it was China's turn to be treated as weak.

These are incidents that we should read before we believe the old Singaporean generation's saying that China has never been an aggressive country. It is a big country which officially calls itself home to 50 peoples, and no country has ever gotten so large by being peaceful. These wars of subjugation are what the Chinese call "internal matters."

GoFishingAlsogotProblemLeh said...

Not sure how you can relate the rioting in the Nagasaki incident to being a root cause for Japan grabbing territory, resources and systematically killing civilians in China, Philipines (what have the Pinoys ever done to Japan?), Singapore and beyond.

If anything, Qing contempt was born of their arrogance but Japan even in 1871 was far further on the road to modernity than China.

Also Nagasaki incident was used as a pretext for Japan to grab Korea.

Skewed history.

Plus don't think one should relate 19th century Chinese thinking to current China. Things have changed slightly.

If anything, Japanese militarism in the 20th century (WW2) was in many ways born out of US and Western policy to isolate her.

Also, China's invasion of Xinjiang and Tibet depends on how you look at it.

To the Chinese, they are reclaiming sovereign territory.

You can argue that China did invade India in 62 and Vietnam in 79 but those were limited incursions at best with China showing no appetite (or capability) for staying power.

So I can't quite see this narrative that China has had ambition to take over countries other than what it considers its sovereign borders.

Sorry.

I say this with all due respect to current Chinese muscle flexing.

"be careful for what you wish for". American (military industrial) need to justify a bogey threat could create the very situation they should be keen to avoid.

OTOH, China should weigh what advantage it possible gets in pushing its weight around. They have scored big in soft power over recent decade but are in danger of squandering gains.

China making 'loud noises' likely shows up their limited hand at the moment in forcing a positive outcome for their territorial claims.

The root to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island dispute is American in making but also precipitated by recent events with Japan (a private individual I believe) declaring sovreignty when it was decided by earlier Chinese and Japanese leaders to leave the Islands' status ambiguous.

So it seems a bit too convenient for some to suddenly turn on China as the bad actor in this play. There is more sides to the story than many are willing to admit to.

;)


Ahtiong said...

In essence what the Chinese are saying with the new ADIZ is :

You control the Island (Diaouyu/Senkaku) we will control the air space.

This whole issue is because America suka suka give island to Japan.

If you look at it from China perspective, they are concern with access.

If you are China, you see a wall in front of you from Japan down to Taiwan etc. For you ships and navy to get out to open sea, there are only choke points.

One of the choke points is Diaoyu.

Of course you will be concern if Japan then abandons principal of rational ambiguity and declare the island as sovereign territory.

For Spratleys, China looks like big bully. But if other countries are in it for the resources, then why not China?

You may say Vietnam and Philipines are closer to the islands but the issue is not who is closer, is who owns the Island.

American Samoa is closer to Samoa but it is owned by US. Hawaii is no where near the US. Falkland Islands is British but guess who is closer?

So this line of argument is bogus.

The main issue is how best to share the wealth. China is not the only party who is trenchant in its view in this respect.

I don't buy this whole American manufactured China threat.

Chinese are not stupid. They won't shoot the goose that lays the golden egg. they are invested in America. Chinese for centuries prefer peace over warring. Peace = prosperity.

For those of you who want to get to the root of Chinese psyche, consider Chinese religion. Yes, it is all about money. got play mahjong over CNY? Now you know.

Peaceful rise is in interest of China. But it cannot be a 'naive' peaceful rise either.

From Chinese perspective, China needs to be able to push back US from its backyard.

Look at US, Huawei want to buy asset and they get paranoid over spying etc. Well, guess who is doing spying for the US recently?

You think US won;t do the same if China say has a heavy naval presence out of Mexico and like to fly their plans up and down California coast to do research on Grey Whales and Sea Lions?

Come on lah, get real.

Don't buy into Chinese propoganda but don't buy into US bullshit either.

The key to the small states in between is to carefully balance out the two elephants.

That's why you see LKY in his advance age make so many trips to see Charlie Rose etc, sakah America and stroke ego.

You think he is not selling koyok? America needs to know it is getting played by smaller countries as well to balance out China. Otherwise miscalculation is costly.

Sending to B52s seems appropriate message that they will assert or push back without escalating or causing China to have to show a stronger hand (face).

Neither side can afford to jeopardise relations. They are too tied in.

If anything Japan is trying to use the situation to assert their use to America much like what Britain has done as America's lap dog for the last 2 decades.

Games.



Anonymous said...

Japanese militarism in the 20th century did not begin with Western attempts to isolate Japan. It began in the 19th century. Japanese participation in World War 2 was undertaken to preserve Japan's access to colonies and resources, not to take over Western colonies or engage Western powers.

China calls its invasions of Xinjiang and Tibet an internal matter of sovereign territory. This should be judged by the beholder and not accepted at face value.

The Chinese approach in the 19th century to Japan, in the Nagasaki and Paiwan incidents, is over a hundred years old and was undertaken by the pre-communist government. However, it is more similar to its current approach to the South China Sea dispute than some recognize. Japan was a weak country at the time, and was seen in the same light as the Philippines, Vietnam and other South China Sea claimants are viewed today. By deploying its Navy and CMS ships to the islands, China is saying that might is right. In the dispute with Japan, China's proclaiming of the air defence zone shows that it regards Japan as a weaker country in the long term. There are more similarities than differences in China's current policy to its policy in the 19th century.

The many islands that China claims in the South China Sea include some off the Indonesian coast, which are much further from China than Senkaku/Diaoyu is far from Japan. The Chinese are not applying the same arguments to their two claims.

Anonymous said...

Deng Xiao Ping was right:

Put aside sovereignty and explore the resources together.

Everyone claiming the rocks in the South China Sea will be better of.

Anonymous said...

"Singapore is the only southeast Asian navy with AIP equipped submarines" (90 sen newspaper 'S'pore to buy two brand new subs' 3 Jan). Is the journo some newbie? Doesn't Malaysia have Scorpenes powered by MESMA AIP?

Anonymous said...

@anon 3.28

the malaysia scorpene does not come with MESMA AIP.

thus in south east asia, singapore is the only nation with AIP submarine, and the 3 nation after japan and china to have AIP in asia.

not sure about india, but if their scopene comes with AIP, they are 4th right after singapore, since we got our AIP before them.

Anonymous said...

http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/china-strategy-and-the-adiz-duel/

" ... Should we perhaps engage with a counter narrative? China’s chosen view of history is rather unbalanced—especially for Americans and Australians. Western powers objected to Japanese actions in China and Manchuria throughout the 1930s. The Second Sino-Japanese war that began in 1937 led to a series of escalating American economic sanctions that eventually culminated in the Pacific War (PDF). Chinese military forces didn’t remove Japanese forces from China; Western nations and the USSR did. In 1945 Roosevelt wanted China as one of the world’s four policemen guiding future international order. At this time, when the current Chinese view of history sees the nation at its lowest ebb, the Western powers made China a permanent Security Council member of the new United Nations. Australia should’ve been so lucky! Chinese history can be seen differently. ..."

To help China, giving face to them, giving them a leg up after WWII... even decades after still helping them ...

Anonymous said...

The Chinese government has its reasons for not adopting and not giving its people access to this view.

Among the major political tendencies in China are two major ones- those who want to see a glorious external rise and those who want to confront internal problems. China has its hands full putting down the second group, by censorship, legal and extra-legal detention and intimidation of the most vocal. By gaining the approval of the first group on the international stage, China discredits critics of its internal performance and preserves the supremacy of the ruling class.

One narrow symptom that we can observe here is that Chinese citizens of all ages are unaware of the Pacific War and believe World War II to be won in China. They are aware of Japanese atrocities. This is very simplistic but it really is the extent of their historical knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Big, powerful countries tend to have more $$$ to fund their militaries, and tend to think they have more right to exercise their power (less restraint) to protect their self-interests than other small countries. Now the chinese are more belligerent to anyone who do not respect their country. They claim to never be a hegemony and colonists - I say wait and see, it's hard to resist more resources and more riches, and it becomes easier to take these away from others when you are powerful.

Anonymous said...

Lacking clarity.

Japan had no colonies to speak off. They grabbed colonies because the West who had colonies denied them a peaceful rise.

Your history is very muddled.

Chinese incidents at Nagasaki are not the same as the systematic slaughter japan meditated against many innocent parties.

History revisionism.

With regard Islands, proximity does not matter if the Islands themselves are claimed as sovereign.

What has the Falklands to do with England or some of the islands in the pacific, Indian ocean?

Very muddles thinking.

The Spratleys are laid claim by multi parties but for the most part, they are uninhabited, therein lies the problem. Thereby Vietnam or Brunei or Philipines lying closer to the rocks have no better claim than China's.


Anonymous said...

I don't see any intent to be aggressive in nature with regards China's external policies.

Again, you belly the idea that the US and Australia helped China in World War 2.

The communist party may differ in thought being the recipient of Soviet support.

Again muddled thinking.

With regards Xinjiang and Tibet, these were more so in the realm of China's realm in the Manchu period for which it took reference to its territorial holdings.

Late 19th and Early 20th century China was carved up by European (and Japanese) powers for their own interest. there was nothing altruistic about these nations' actions. Much of it was exploitation.





Anonymous said...

Why are the Adaman and Nicobar Islands in Indian hands?

They are closer to Indonesia or Myanmar than they are to India.

Why is Christmas Island Australian?

Closer to Indonesia last I checked.

Why is Gibralta still British? For that matter why do the Brits or Frenchies require nuclear weapons?

China is only claiming what historically (Last empire) was in her domains.

Many of the American, British and french holdings currently are a legacy of their empire which are even less justifiable through geography.

Seems to me a lot of Singaporeans on this site have a case of the Pinkelton Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Talk about Adaman and Nicobar, much of the territory in India's Eastern provinces are populated by non- Indians.

there has been much brutality and an on going insurgency there.

yet the Western press conveniently turns a blind eye because India is the great democracy that cannot provide sufficient food or power for its people but want to send a probe to Mars.

Not trying to belittle India but just think of the double standards.

India is building carriers too.

Why does Britain or France need carriers? They have no significant holdings overseas unless you think defending the Malvinas which lies CLOSER to Argentina (so the Brits can lay claim on potential resources there) is very different from what China is doing (never mind the small population of sheep and people on the Island)

China is protecting its access to its SLOC.

here we have Singaporeans trying to justify buying submarines and frigates to guard their interest in keeping their SLOC access open, you don't think China does not have a similar interest?

You need to have better clarity of thought.

LaoChiao said...

Britain and France attacked Egypt in their own interest during the Suez canal War.

America topped Moussadeig in Iran because he was not in the best interest of big oil and American security interest.

Anything altruistic about that?

Which country has China tried to topple?

Chinese narrative has remain consistent over time (as far as the communist period is concern). they want to retake what they lost in territory to Imperial exploitation and the reference is to the last empire under the Qing.

Whether they should adopt such a strong stance or if it is counter productive with regards stake in Taiwan's future or Spratley or Diaoyu is a different question.

But they have not been unclear with their intention and have remain constant.

they have NOT invaded Iraq to supposedly topple a tyrant for altruistic reasons but really in the interest of securing oil resources by force to the detriment of the native people.

As Singaporeans, I would think we should be more mindful of some of the mind games that the West have played as well. Seems to me the new generation of Singaporeans are very fuzzy in their thought these days.



DomoArigatoMrRoboto said...

Your comment on Christmas Island is interesting.

In this case, the Island lies closer to Indonesia than Australia.

not many Singaporeans will realise of course that it was in Singaporean (private hands) for some time and was relinquished to Australia by the ineffective Lim Yew Hock government.

In similar vein the dubious private ownership of Senkaku/Diaoyu was relinquished to Japan which started this whole crisis in the first place.

If we consider that China holds Taiwan as part of its territory as consistent with its territorial stake following Qing dynasty geographic possession at its maximum (which is what China considers the last time it had control of its actions before European and Japanese meddling), then the islands are closer to China.

Which is why Taiwan also lays claim.

If Indonesia wants Christmas Island 'back' on account of geographic proximity (taking into account Falkland's example) it will be very difficult to justify purely from a physical perspective why Australia should retain the Island. The original relinquishment of the Island after all, did not consult Indonesia.

But we all know unlike China, Indonesia is not sufficiently in a position of strength to stake its own claims and stand up for itself in this regard without major International blow back.

In China's case, it is different. She has now the financial muscle int he world economy to do so.

She has to be very careful because although she has a point with regards Diaoyu she should also weigh against the cost that may stack against her and figure out if this is indeed politically expedient.

My feeling is that she thinks she can push her weight in at very least to make a strong point legally for some future action in court.

Remember Pedra Blanca (another geographical curiosity). Precedence is important but one should also show some effort to raise the issue where for many years, Malaysia left this dormant and in the back burner.

Should we otherwise than say for purely geographical reasons, Pedra Blanca should be Malaysian? What business does Singapore have administering a piece of rock so far out?

Who are we to say Malasia cannot manage a lighthouse equally well?

From a legalistic point of view, Diaoyu is muddled because of the unilateral decision of the United States.

The current Chinese administration naturally cannot accept such a position and why should they?

Deng's maxim was to just leave the issue as grey and not talk about it but the unilateral Japanese move forced China's hand on the issue.

So to put in perspective, this issue is really created by Japan because it wants to be of use to America and get its backing as China continues its rise.

You may say politics in China has an influence in this situation but don't forget that there is also politics in Japan as there is in America.

To not consider all views is facetious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous December 8, 2013 at 2:09 PM

"Lacking clarity. Japan had no colonies to speak off. They grabbed colonies because the West who had colonies denied them a peaceful rise. Your history is very muddled. History revisionism."

What is muddled about saying Japan had colonies, which you deny?

Taiwan was a colony of Japan from 1895 to 1945.
Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 to 1945.
Manchukuo was a colony of Japan from 1931 to 1945.

The only thing muddled here is the language of your 3 posts.

Anonymous said...

Christmas Island, the Falklands, Taiwan and so on all have one thing in common- a resident population which has been allowed to live there for decades. If these disputes were taken to an international court, the lives of these people, who are the most affected, would be taken strongly into account alongside any other factors. Most likely they would be allowed to decide their own fate through a referendum.

"Chinese narrative has remain consistent over time (as far as the communist period is concern). they want to retake what they lost in territory to Imperial exploitation and the reference is to the last empire under the Qing."

If you want to insist based on historical or geographical grounds that Taiwan is part of the PRC and ignore the will of the Taiwanese people, then I put it to you that Singapore has no greater claim to independence from Malaysia or Indonesia on the grounds you insist on.

If centuries old historical ownership or overlordship is legal grounds for a present-day claim, the entire world's borders would be in dispute and half the world's population would have to move or live in the sea.

Anonymous said...

"Also, China's invasion of Xinjiang and Tibet depends on how you look at it. To the Chinese, they are reclaiming sovereign territory."

I won't challenge your points. Fortunately, most people can do their own basic research on Tibet and Xinjiang's history. And if they do, they would disagree with you that it was a historical part of China before 1949.